The smell of garlic bread wafted through the Shelter on Friday afternoon as Detroit rapper Eminem’s appeared at the first day of his weekend pop-up shop in the basement club.
The Grammy Award-winning rapper signed autographs and took photos with fans. The new album “Revival” which dropped Friday, wass blaring at top volume inside the Shelter, at 431 E. Congress in Detroit, below Saint Andrew’s Hall.
“Big shout out to Eminem for coming thru (sic) and signing a few autographs for his fans at today’s pop up,” the venue tweeted Friday evening after the event had wrapped.
Union Joints — the restaurant group that runs Union Woodshop, Clarkston Union, Vensetta Garge, Union Catering and others — had served 100 pounds of pasta in the first three hours of the event, which continues 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
The menu was simple: a large helping of spaghetti served with garlic bread in a Chinese food-style to-go container for $5 ($8 with meatballs) or a s’ghetti sandwich for $5. Pop and water were also served but no alcohol.
In addition to eating, fans tried on merchandise in an area set up to look like a modest Midwestern living room with wood paneling and carpet. The new CD was priced at $13, hats and T-shirts in the $20-$35 range and Carhart hoodies and jackets were $75 and $160, respectively.
“What’s better than spaghetti on a cold day in Detroit and people are eating it up,” said restaurateur Curt Catallo of Union Joints. “It’s the best the Shelter’s ever smelled.”
Catallo said he wasn’t sure how much spaghetti they would go through over the weekend, but they’re ready for whatever comes their way.
“The good news is, because we make so much mac and cheese, this is right up chef Baker’s alley,” he said giving credit to his staff, which were serving from behind the bar of the Shelter. Catallo said they were going for the “straight-from-the-jar vibe” that one would have at the family dinner table.
Elisa Rico, 18, of Detroit found out about the pop-up through social media. She said she’s been a fan of the Detroit rapper since “MTV was a thing.”
“I was like, wait, is this really happening? I’ve never been (to the Shelter) and I expected it to be a bigger place, but the concept is still really cool,” she said, adding that she thought the spaghetti tasted “good.”
“To me, to even understand Eminem’s brain ... cause this is his concept,” she said. “You got the sign up, you got people wearing his merchandise, mom’s spaghetti, he has this amazing video of where he grew up, all this is like in his head, his memories, so it’s like a cool concept, I would invite anyone who is an Eminem fan at all, even remotely, to come here.”
Nearly every seat was taken Friday afternoon just after a snowy lunchtime, but more people are expected over the weekend. There’s no charge to get in, and entrance is behind the building.
“Get here early,” advises Eminem fan Arden Kassab of West Bloomfield, who also recommended getting the meatball upgrade. “It’s very laid back, open. You get a chance to hear the whole album and decide if you want to buy it.”